Abuja - The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says the national under-17 team still has a lot of work to be done ahead of the African U-17 Championship, in spite of their qualification.
Siji Lagunju, NFA’s Chief Technical Officer, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja that though the team qualified convincingly, they still had grey areas to tackle.
ThGolden Eaglets, qualified for the 2015 African U-17 Championship after defeating their Gabonese counterparts 6-2 on aggregate.
The Nigerian team had thrashed the Gabonese side 5-0 on Saturday in Calabar in the return leg match of the final qualifying round after losing 1-2 to them in Gabon a fortnight ago.
The 2015 African U-17 Championship is scheduled to hold in Niger Republic from Feb. 15 to March 1.
"It was a good match because the boys really did well and converted their chances to goals, though there is still work to be done before the African U-17 Championship in Niger.
"But I think after they enjoy their recess, they will come back refreshed. The coaches will then look into the areas that they are lacking and make corrections.
"So that when they get to the U-17 Championship in Niger, they will do better; but in all, it was a very good match,’’ Lagunju said.
He, however, noted that the players turned over the result of the first leg not because they just wanted to qualify, but because they knew they could have won both matches.
"Even in Gabon, they played a good match but lost so many scoring chances.
"I think, for the past two weeks, that was what the coaches worked on and we have seen the result; they can score goals and they did.
"So, it is not an issue of whether they can score goals or not, they could have won in Gabon if they had converted the chances they had.
"It was not as if they scored many goals yesterday (Saturday) because they lost in the first leg; they should have beaten Gabon both home and away,’’ Lagunju said.
The NFF technical officer added that the team’s target, when they resume camp later in preparations for the championship, should be strategies on how to win all group matches.
"When they get to the championship, the first thing they have to do is to take the first match very seriously.
"This is because once they qualify from the group stages, they have qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup; so whether they are in the final or not, they should qualify from the group stage.
"The most important thing for them is to qualify for the World Cup because the championship is a World Cup qualifier.
"For their final preparations, the team must ensure that they win all the group matches to qualify for the World Cup automatically,’’ Lagunju said.
The 2015 African U-17 Championship is the qualifier for the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile.
The semi-finalists of the eight-nation continental championship would represent Africa at the World Cup in October 2015.